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Monday, February 25, 2013

Keep a Sharp Lookout

That’s become our watch phrase every time the bird feeders IMG_8758become very inactive, especially after a refill.

Like today when this male cardinal perched on this branch for more than 10 minutes without moving or making any sound.

WHY ?
0224 hawk (5)Because while we’re feeding our feathered friends, a VERY Unwelcome Visitor (UV) has been coming around hoping to feed too — on other birds.
YES, we’re talking about a hawk. The distinctive brown tail feathers are barely visible as I caught it perched in a neighbor’s tree early today.
This very UV has been hanging around here the past several weeks. It’s also been spotted in a fellow blogger and neighbor’s back yard. She has a lot of feeders that attract a variety of birds making attractive menu choices for this raptor.
Informally called “sharp-shins” or “sharpies” these are the smallest hawks residing in the US and Canada. Their full name is a Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus).hawk back-frontHardly tiny in comparison to his prey, “sharpie” is quite an acrobatic flier. It can appear in a blur of motion and disappear in a flurry of feathers as I saw it do today. Thankfully, its intended victim was able to escape. The feeders on the sides of the F&P are located beside a clump of hedges or several crepe myrtles. These make good escape places for smaller birds.
hawk targetsSharp-shinned hawks have distinctive proportions: long legs, short wings, small heads, and very long tails, which they use for navigating at top speed in pursuit of songbirds and mice. The tail tends to be square-tipped and may show a notch at the tip. Females are considerably larger than males.

sharpshin hawk (2)They’re easily spotted around winter feeders, as they are much larger than their intended victims and the feeders become noticeably void of activity.

This one has been spotted perching on the shepherd’s hook between 2 feeders several times in the past 2 weeks. It’s not easily deterred and either Grenville or myself need to go out and make a lot of noise to get him to leave.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are agile fliers and speed through dense woodssharpshin hawk (4) to surprise their prey, typically songbirds, causing a wave of high-pitched alarm calls among the gathered songbirds.. They do not stoop on prey from high overhead and can also pounce from low perches. When flying across open areas they have a distinctive flap-and-glide flight style.

Adults are slate blue-gray above, with narrow, horizontal red-orange bars on the breast. Adults and young have broad dark bands across their long tails. The female “sharpie” is usually larger than the male.hawk side-sideIF only this UV would help by ridding the feeders of these UVs . . .
unwelcome visitors (1)

14 comments:

Country Gal said...

Wonderful photos ! We have a few Sharp shinned Hawks hanging around here and Sparrow Hawks as well . Between my in laws that live next door and us we have lots of feeders and the Hawks get easy prey . Circle of life and nature ! Have a good evening !

DeniseinVA said...

Those are great photos of your hawk, and the birds hiding from it. We get a Coopers Hawk around here but I haven't seen him for a while. I always know when he's around, it gets very quiet.

Elaine said...

Hard to know what to do when a predator finds your feeders. I had a Northern Shrike working my feeders a few winters ago. While I know it's all part of nature I felt like I was putting out bait for him. I only saw him get a couple of the little Redpolls, but that was enough.

Karen @ away for the weekend said...

This hawk does look a bit menacing. I do like to watch them, but can understand how they are considered UVs. I don't have any bird feeders, but was just looking at some last night. I thin I'm going to give it a go and see what I can attract.

Montanagirl said...

Nice images. I haven't seen a Sharpie or a Cooper's in several years. But I can always tell when one is around.

Anvilcloud said...

I never know who to sheer for -- predator or prey.

Daisy said...

I don't believe I've ever seen that kind of hawk around here. It's an impressive bird, but I wouldn't want it around the bird feeders either. Great photos!

Sandra said...

our hawks are about 2 feet tall when sitting. i had one dive bomb me while i was taking photos last week of the hollyhocks. he screamed so loud it made me jump... we have 3 couples that live and eat in our area, and also several Eagles. most of our little birds are gone, i keep pointing out the squirrels to them, but they don't bother them.

Lois Evensen said...

The uninvited hawk is very pretty. We have a family of them in the neighborhood now. I am sure they keep the unwanted critter population down, but they also go after those that are wanted, of course.

Out on the prairie said...

We had one fly into our mist net while banding birds one year.It saw the other helpless birds and thought there was a buffet.It left with abracelet also.

Doris said...

The UV is beautiful but can understand why it's unwelcome. Poor birdies!

Leonora said...

Your bird feeder provides a lot of entertainment! What a lazy (or smart) hawk to "hunt" like that.

Cicero Sings said...

Those hawks sure are amazing fliers. I was sick in bed once and one zoomed by the window so fast it startled me .... whoosh!

King Kerce said...

This is a juvenile Coopers Hawk!

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